If you are an OTR or local trucker and you are in an accident, you may be wondering who is responsible. This is especially true if you have suffered injuries that have affected your ability to work or your quality of life. The following guide can help you understand this sometimes complicated problem so that the correct party will be held responsible for your recovery, pain and loss of income.
Who Could Be at Fault?
This is much more complicated than it may initially look. One or more of the following could be at fault in a truck accident:
The driver. If you were driving irresponsibly or failed to follow traffic laws, you may be at fault for part or the entirety of the accident.
Other drivers. If the accident included multiple vehicles, even if the other vehicles weren't directly impacted, another driver could be at fault.
The trucking company. This includes the owner of the truck, trailer or both, as well as any company that has leased the truck or trailer, if there were defects with the vehicle or its trailer that lead to the accident. They may also be at fault if they pushed the driver to meet certain deadlines or to follow certain protocols they may have lead to the accident.
The loading company. If the accident was caused by a poorly loaded shipment, then the loading company could be to blame.
Parts manufacturers. Was the accident caused by a defective part, such as a tire blowout? Then the manufacturer of that part or of the truck could be to blame. In some cases, accidents are even traced back to the mechanic that last serviced that part.
Everyone in the trucking industry is generally required to hold liability insurance, which is there to cover the driver, the truck, and the truck's contents in the event of an accident. Sometimes, a trucking or freight company may claim they do not own the truck so it isn't their responsibility. Fortunately, the law is usually on the driver's side in this instance. If the company has legally leased the use of the truck or trailer from the owner or driver, or if they have hired the driver as an employee or independent contractor, then they can be held responsible.
First Steps After an Accident
If you are in an accident, the best way to ensure that responsibility is correctly assigned is to make sure that all evidence is preserved. Most trucks are equipped with recording devices that track speed, direction, braking patterns, and more. Make sure the information from these devices is properly downloaded and recorded after the accident.
Also, keep a copy of any police or witness reports, along with all documentation from hospital and medical visits. Write down everything you remember about the accident as soon as possible so you have an accurate recounting of events on hand when you meet with a lawyer.
Finally, call an attorney that specializes in trucking accidents. They can provide you with further advice specific to your case, and they will work to make sure that the responsible party pays you what you deserve. Contact a firm like Arrington Schelin & Munsey PC for more information.